Midway-area planners finally get insight into retooled community plan
by Dave Schwab
Published - 10/02/13 - 02:04 PM | 5673 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The North Bay Community Planning Group (NBCPG) got its first look at a revised community plan seeking to redefine how the Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor sees itself.

The community plan for the Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor hasn’t been updated since 1991. The purpose of a community plan is to provide land-use designations and policies that will help guide future development.

Senior city planner Tait Galloway addressed the planners during their September meeting and gave a slideshow presentation detailing existing commercial development and traffic and transportation circulation in the Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor located between Old Town and Point Loma.

Galloway addressed all the various subdistricts of the planning group area, loosely defined as Sports Arena, Kemper, Dutch Flats, Camino Del Rio, Channel, Lytton, Kurtz and the Hancock transportation corridor areas.

Midway/Pacific Highway is comprised of the central Midway shopping area, including the former sports arena (now Valley View Casino Center) and the narrow, linear-shaped Pacific Highway Corridor. Midway is characterized by wide streets, flat topography and a varied mixture of flat-roofed large and small commercial buildings.

Pacific Highway Corridor between Interstate 5 and Lindbergh Field contains some of the city's oldest industrial areas and is defined by large-scale buildings and commercial parking lots in the south, and smaller-scale industrial buildings between Witherby Street and Washington Street in the north.

The Midway/Pacific community plan update, redone along with all the city’s other neighborhood community plans about every 20 years, was characterized by Galloway as “a great opportunity to provide a new vision for the community.”

“There needs to be a stronger sense of identity as to what the Midway/Pacific Highway community is,” said Galloway. “Rright now, it is seen as a place to drive through, not shop in or as a place to go.”

According to the city’s website, the Midway area had become a mix of industrial and commercial operations by the 1960s. Traffic congestion, signage and overhead utility lines became persistent community concerns.

Although Midway was once considered almost exclusively as industrial, rising land values have caused a shift from industrial to commercial. Since the 1960s, Midway has suffered from haphazard development. The resulting diversity in development patterns, architecture and other factors has contributed to a disjointed and sporadic community image, where few buildings have compatibility or any functional relationship to each other and the surrounding neighborhood.

Galloway said one of the objectives of redoing Midway/Pacific’s community plan is find ways to establish the area as a more of destination.

“We want to make it a more visually interesting place for people to come and sit down or walk or ride a bike, whether that’s done with landscaping or with creating more green space or adding sidewalks or other amenities,” Galloway said.

The city planner said the update he was presenting is a “rough first draft” that allows the planning group to “give us [city officials] more input” on things they’d like to see done, issues they’d like to see addressed more or land-use changes they’d like to propose in their community plan.

“It’s just a starting point really,” said Galloway. He said he would return to meet again with planners in the next couple months with a more finely-tuned plan details.

“I like most of what you’re giving us,” NBCPG chairwoman Melanie Nickel told Galloway.

Nickel expressed concern about how the sports arena-area would be dealt with in the Midway/Pacific Highway plan update.

“We’ve talked about an entertainment theme there and we’d like to see that whole thing looked at as a package,” she said.

Galloway discussed the future timetable for the Midway/Pacific Highway plan update.

“My goal by early next year is to have a completed plan update that we can get the community to look at,” he said, noting the next step after that is to prepare a draft environmental impact report (EIR),which will be done in 2014.

The complete Midway/Pacific Highway community plan update is expected to go before the city Planning Commission and City Council for final review and approval sometime in 2015, Galloway said.

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